I have a promising saas b2b product.
The product is out in the wild running and winning customers. The product run's my clients business's end to end and most have up 10 users per account. At the moment i generate leads, do intro calls, demos, on-boarding myself and it is a lot of work. I'm also wearing the tech hat so I have to do all the tech side of the business too.
My plan is to cherry pick the right adopters - go after the bigger accounts and work with up and coming business's who want to stand out as niche market leaders. The product works well in that context and that is where I can get the 250-300 dollars per account.
My clients do sales into the 20-50k a month, collect payments and use my system to on-board there customers from inquiry through to payment, job management and final review.
I want to chase low sign ups maximum revenue as that is where the business can grow a potentially decent monthly revenue.
Right now i find my self "throttling" the sales and demos as I just cant keep up with it and i do feel making sure every client is 100% on-board running and committed is important.
So far so good. I have a daily niggle that I should be taking the next step and finding a person who can take over the lead generation, demo, on-boarding for me.
On the other hand as much as I find it hard to switch roles the lead generation, sales. on-boarding role gets a lot of insights about customers and product that is in-valuable as a founder. I can also probably do it single handily and reach quite a tidy revenue.
If I could find someone they would have to be remote and have to be committed like me. I would also then need potentially one more person to then help in other areas and so the thing would start moving up and sideways.
What are my options how should I be thinking. I have a lot of experience in small business and have manage to grow passed companies quite nicely.
I would guess if I found a decent sales person we could grow to 250 users and beyond. That would be about 750-1000 agents.
The annoying niggle is probably with a small team I could get wings and fly.
Any thoughts ?
Have to disagree with Robert on this one. You are too early, and not well versed enough in sales to dictate process to build a sales team. You need a more senior marketing/sales/business development next hire or partner that can be self sufficient and help you define a process that is scalable and adoptable. Otherwise, you are going to swap the problem of direct selling with that of micromanagement of inexperienced sales people.
That person should also help you identify the next features and functions required to build the product and go after the next and larger set of customers.
I also travelled on same boat. Realized, what I am good on it Tech side, delegated by hiring tech guys. I took on the unexplored area of sales, leads generation as primary role. Anything going on wrong direction on tech, I am aware of it and I know how to correct. This way, everything will be balanced.
It is in the research and the message. Sounds like you have some good traction. You have to really focus on vision, leadership and being a CEO. I have very simple marketing plan based on research and hitting avenues most miss to build your network. In about 8 hours you have a marketing campaign for a fiscal quarter. Hit me up if you desire
Martin - Like many below, I would argue that you shouldn't hire a sales person until you have a strategic marketer who is still versed in startups/scaling businesses define some key elements for you. This is specific to your business but could include: lead approach (traditional demand gen vs. account-based marketing), audience profiling and messaging, outreach strategy (automation vs. high-touch), etc. You'll also want to do some pilot campaigns to test viability and build a foundation prior to bringing on a full-time sales person. They'll only be frustrated. I've seen it happen many times.
That said, one possibility is for you to use outsourced meeting generation. I've used a few services that are decent. Even, though, you'll want a senior-level marketer to help guide and ensure success.
This depends on your CAC and LTV calculations. We all know that B2B selling skills are different than other sales, particularly in the SaaS space, but it also segments into the type of B2B (enterprise, SMB - where you are driving to more medium businesses then small) and the actual application. I infer that your are focused in the smaller range with the 10 to 20 users/seats but not the actual size of the target. If it is 100 +/- with 20 users, the approach is different than the sub10 people total (to state the patently obvious). WIth your ability to sell, the core skill missing in most new companies, it may be better that you keep this on your plate (with strategy and tactics) and find a new tech lead. I have used outsource centers in the Philippines in the past with some success, but if you are testing this, you should consider a US center with this expertise to develop process and benchmarks before going offshore. You can also use resources like Angel List to post exploratory positions for lead-gen, appointments, etc. But do not be the bottleneck in your own success by requiring all demos go to you forever. The toughest thing as a Founder is to know when you need to delegate.
I tend to agree with @Sophia Maler. Leadgen is not the same as sales.
Leadgen fills the pipeline - and usually with tonnes of unfiltered leads in my experience. Sales people pick up the phone and make leads into paying clients. The two are never the same people.
I would argue (but there are millions of opinions) that the priority one is a sales person. And one that in theory is not afraid to get out the Yellow Pages and just start dialing. But they are smart at spending a little time researching to make sure they only dial those that fit the criteria. To know what the criteria is they need to be in on the ground as a founding team member who believe in the dream and totally get the product. Do not outsource startup sales to someone who just cares about earning his £ per hour.
Leadgen is what you do when you've raised a big round of finance and just want to throw money at "building".
Sales is what early stage startups do that want to be smart with their money and generate real paying clients.
So I suppose by my logic that means a startup begins with hardcore sales and then once financed builds towards leadgen and putting adverts on the back of taxi seats and other such crazy "throw my investors' money around" ideas!
@steveprocter Yes we have clients in the UK, US, AU and NZ.
Systematize your business processes. Analyze, evaluate, document, and reevaluate the steps to the point where anyone can perform them exactly the same way every time. Keep track of exactly what you do during the sales cycle for the next few prospective customers. Build an operations manual or a checklist that details the exact steps to replicate your sales process. Bring in a few sales people, give them the guides, and have them study them until the know it by heart. Build some incentives into their performances to give them something to strive for. Then set them loose.
Once they are producing, you can focus more on the strategic aspects of your business while your employees focus on executing the tactical operations.
Hey @Wally Barr - "I have very simple marketing plan" - oooh you know you have teased everyone with that! We are all sat here waiting to hear how your cool plan works. Please tell ;-)
I rarely see customer-facing selling skills and demand gen/ automation skills combo in the same individual. If you need someone to simply scale up what you are doing today, this is a Sales job. If your challenge is kissing a lot of frogs (low lead to account conversion results), then finding a talented demand gen person is a key. They would need to filter out all the noise as the leads moving though the funnel, that way you would handle fewer calls and have more time to ensure customer success.